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WHIP CRACKING GOOD TALE
Calamity Jane (DVD)
Member Name: Ann J Sec
Calamity Jane (DVD)
Date: 07/03/01, updated on 13/03/01 (127 review reads)
Advantages: Pure escapism for family viewing
Disadvantages: Dated views re. femininity
Take me back to the Black Hills, oh well if not .......take me back to the innocent days when films like Calamity Jane were hot news, back to the days of the l950s and especially l953 when this film was made.
It may not seem very topical to write about films such as this in today's climate of violence and sex, but if ever there was a film for general family viewing Calamity Jane would be the one I would recommend.
The film is loosely based on the true life story of Marthy Cannary Burke, a tomboy of her times. Cannary, or Calamity as she later became known was supposedly a scout for General Custer. I say supposedly, because her story seems to be viewed with some scepticism. Calamity indeed was a friend of Wild Bill Hickock, but there wasn't any romantic liaison. Calamity eventually married a texan Clinton Burke who deserted her after she had a baby girl. For some reason Calamity asked to be buried alongside Bill Hickock and their final resting place is in South Dakota. Bill's demise followed him being shot in the head by one Jack McColl and if we are to believe Calamity's claims, she was going to carve him up with a meat clever in revenge for Bill's death,but he got away.
Well the real Calam. did wear men's clothing, but here the similarity ends because she wasn't in the least bit attractive or blonde as portrayed by Doris Day in the film. Having said that, Doris Day plays one of her best parts as the gun toting, whip cracking heroine who's in love with an Army Lieutenant. Unfortunately for her the Lieutenant's eye is on Katy Brown, the pretty young dresser with ambitions of becoming a singer. Katy gets her chance when she goes to Deadwood in place of a real star who has been booked to appear in the Saloon there. Her deception gets discovered, but she becomes popular in her own right as a singer in Deadwood.
Calamity, played by Doris, takes advice from Katy and cleans herself up and dre
sses in feminine clothes in order to capture the Lieutenant's eye (all feminists click off now, quickly). This fails to work on the Lieutenant but does the trick with Wild Bill and they fall in love after some mishaps and jealousy on the way. End of plot.
What makes the film delicious is the casting and the music. With handsome Howard Keel, as Wild Bill who would want the smarmy Lieutenant anyway? Doris Day is Doris Day, wonderful as usual, and the songs, written by Sammy Fain with lyrics by Paul Webster include 'Secret Love',which received an Academy award for best song, the haunting 'Black Hills of Dakota' and the 'Deadwood Stage'.
Surprisingly this musical later became a stage success. I say surprisingly because it is usually the other way around.
If you can ignore the sometimes dodgy backdrops and the rather dated feminine outlooks and if you want pure escapism, this is the film for you, your children and your children's children. No blood, little violence (well she does shoot everybody including all the indians) plenty of music and dollops of charm.
One I would thoroughly recommend for a video library and at around £9.99 from Amazon it's a bargain.....whip crack away, whip crack away, whip crack away.........